Series #17
Identity: If you were to be reborn, do you want to be born Japanese? Yes or no? Why or why not?


As the World Cup 2014 proceeds to the knockout round among 16, many of us seem to feel more conscious of our nationality. Many Japanese woke up very early to cheer for the Japanese team, and increasingly more Americans are getting excited about the progress the US team has made. As the host country, Brazil seems to be under severe pressure to win. If past experience is anything to go by, this surge of nationalistic sentiments is likely to go away once the World Cup is over. Even so, while we spend sleepless nights rooting for our teams on the field, we might take the opportunity to think about what is it that makes our hearts skip a beat when we see our national flags flying high.

It is only to be expected that with the advance of globalization, national boundaries may not have as much significance as before. As more people study or work overseas, we may become less conscious of our origins. Some may even call themselves global citizens.

Does that mean they are losing their identity? In the era of advanced technology and communication, individuals can increasingly express, share and collaborate beyond organizational and national boundaries, so do we really need national identity?

We will address these issues at session #17 of “Davos Experience in Tokyo” (DET) series on July 25. Our hypothetical question is, “If you were to be reborn, do you want to be born Japanese?” and we welcome answers from everybody, regardless of nationality. It will be a good opportunity for Japanese to reexamine their background (as many of us “happen” to be born in Japan, rather than “choose” to be born here). It would also be interesting to hear whether non-Japanese people would “choose” to be born in Japan and what they think of being Japanese.

The topic is also important in light of the 2020 summer Olympics, which Tokyo has been chosen to host. “Branding Japan” and distilling a “message and contribution from Japan to the world” have become important points on the agenda for 2020 and we need to think over these issues by ourselves, rather than leave the task to the government and related organizations. Thus, it is important to re-examine our identities and discuss the identity of Japan from the perspective of each and every one of us.

Last but not least, the question of identity is increasingly important in the context of the much-discussed concepts of “global leaders” and “global talents”. The interplay between personal identity, which inevitably has some national aspects, and the global agenda is more important than ever. We hope that the debate at our next session will shed some light on these issues too.

For session # 17 we will come back to our original venue at Wilson Learning Innovation Center at Roppongi/Kamiyacho. We invite you to join us, speak up and be part of a lively debate on what does it mean to be Japanese. We look forward to seeing you on July 25!


第17 回 「私たちのアイデンティティーもし生まれ変われるとしたら、日本人に生まれたいか? Yes, No? それはなぜ?」




この課題を考えるため、「ダボスの経験を東京で」第17回では、「もし生まれ変われるとしたら、日本に生まれたいか?」という仮定の質問に対してディベートをしたいと思います。Yes でもNOでもどちらでも良いですし、またこの問いは日本人に限りません。日本国籍の人は、「たまたま」日本に生まれたけど、もし自分で選択できるとしたら、また「日本に生まれたいか」という質問になりますし、外国人は、逆に「たまたま日本に生まれなかったけれど、選べるとしたら、日本に生まれたいか?」という問いかけになります。

「ダボスの経験を東京で」第17回では、日本人のアイデンティティの問題を考えるため、こうした仮定の質問への対応から議論を進めたいと考えています。今回のセッションは、六本木・神谷町のWilson Learning Innovation Centerで行われます。このテーマに対して、Yes側 No側に分かれて小グループそして全体で議論をする予定です。



Video & Discussion

#17 Summary

At session #17 of “Davos… in Tokyo” series, we discussed our own identity and what role nationality plays in our identity in the globalizing world.

I began the session welcoming participants and did brief re-cap of our May session entitled “Entrepreneurs – case of ANA Blue Wing”. I shared my experience of seeing the promotion video of Blue Wing on one of my flights I took in July and how excited I am to see that idea is being implemented by the corporation.

Then I discussed the importance of having identity in the era of global competition for talents. I explained the background of why I want to focus on the nationality as a part of our own identity. One was that I thought that people might feel somewhat nationalistic when they watched World Cup games where national teams compete against each other. I have also wondered myself how we describe ourselves today when people are mobile and the significance of nationality seems to be in decline.

I shared my findings from the two occasions I asked the same question “If you were to be reborn, do you want to be born Japanese?” One to undergraduate students and the other to Japanese young executives.

I then explained the objective and rules of breakout sessions. When I took a vote for Yes or No, there were less than 10 people with “No” responses. So we arranged the breakout session in such a way that each group has at least one “No” person. (This is shown in Part 1 of Video for some 17 minutes)

Then groups began discussing the issue of identity, nationality etc. Many issues came up from the report back session such as distinction between identity and nationality, nationality and nationalistic, etc. (Part 2 of Video for some 40 minutes)

As always, I find many different perspectives and issues surface, much more than what I expected. This is what makes this type of discussion so exciting.



最初に私が初めての参加者も含めて、ようこそ!とご挨拶した後、5月にやった「社内起業家―ANA Blue Wingの事例のその後」を紹介しました。私がANA国内線の機内で思いがけずBlue Wingのプロモーションビデオを見たこと、そして、4年がかりで個人のアイディアが大企業のブランド戦略に組み込まれたことがどれほどエキサイティングか、を紹介しました。



 それから小グループでのディスカッションの目的と詳細を説明しました。参加者全員に聞いた所、このグループではNo(日本人に生まれたくない)が10人以下と少数派だったので、各グループにひとりはNOの人がいるようにアレンジして、小グループでのディスカッションが始まりました。(ここまでビデオのPart 1で見られます。大体17分程度)

 小グループでのディスカッションは40分位行われ、最後に各グループからレポートバックがありました。(この部分はビデオのPart 24―40分位です)。同じ質問でしたが、グループそれぞれかなり違った角度から議論しているのがとても興味深いと思いました。アイデンティティと国籍の違い、国籍と愛国主義のちがい、などいろいろな課題が登場しました。いつも思いますが、いろいろな人たちが小グループで自由に議論すると、思いもかけないような見方や課題が出てくるのは、本当にエキサイティングです。それこそ、こうした試みの一番の醍醐味だと思いました。

Posted in ARCHIVES.


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